Layover in Philadelphia – the ultimate guide 2024

Published by: BouncePosted
Sunrise over Philadelphia

There can be few cities in the United States with a richer Revolutionary history than Philadelphia. Here, in the largest city in Pennsylvania, you will find the Liberty Bell and the famous Independence Hall.

Its position geographically means that the airport operates as a central hub for many US destinations, and your chances of doing a layover here are strong. If you are not the sort of person who likes to twiddle their thumbs for hours in an airport, you might prefer to see this as a chance to explore a new destination.

The airport regional rail line runs into the downtown area every thirty minutes, so accessing the city is easy. Before doing that, you would be wise to store your bags by using a local luggage storage service in Philadelphia. Dragging bags around will really hamper your Philadelphia layover.

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6 hour Philadelphia layover

Being stuck in an airport for six hours might seem like purgatory, but if you decide to explore then this turns into a quite short stopover. If you plan your visit and are organized, you can still get a taste of Philly because the train is so regular and it is such a walkable city. 

After dropping your bags in a Philadelphia Airport locker, jump the train to Jefferson Station and head for Reading Terminal Market. Housed in a National Historic Landmark building, this market was established in 1893 and has a great atmosphere to it. You will find every food product imaginable as well as arts and crafts. It's a wonderful place to grab a bite or, if the weather is nice, to pick up super fresh ingredients for a picnic in one of the nearby parks.

If you still have time after that visit, you are just a few blocks away from Philadelphia’s City Hall and Dilworth Plaza, so that makes for an easy stroll before returning to the airport.

  • Remember to allow yourself time to comfortably pass through security before catching your onward connection.
  • On a short Philadelphia layover, you are better off not trying to do too much.
  • A walking tour of Reading Market will give you something of a feel for this great city.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

8 hour Philadelphia layover

Just a short walk from Reading Terminal Market, you can get above it all at One Liberty Observation Deck. Located on the 57th floor of one of the city’s skyscrapers, this observation deck offers panoramic 360° views of Philadelphia. It’s a great place to get an overview of the city when you don’t have too much time on your hands. A trip up to the observation deck and capturing a bunch of photos won’t take you more than an hour, but it will leave you with an indelible memory of the City of Brotherly Love. The view is especially dramatic at sunset, so if you’re lucky enough to be in the city at that time, don’t miss this golden opportunity.

  • Take a short walk from the Market to One Liberty Observation Deck.
  • Enjoy the view of the city and get plenty of photos.
  • The view is especially dramatic at sunset.
Philadelphia by night

10 hour Philadelphia layover

With an extra four hours at your disposal, you now have an opportunity to take in more of this historic city, and hopefully won’t need to spend so much time looking at your watch. Long layovers afford you the chance to visit more tourist attractions, but don’t pile on the pressure by attempting to do too much.

You could jump the train to Suburban Station and visit Rittenhouse. Here you can wander among stores and eateries or find your way to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the design of which was based on the Champs Elysée in Paris.

Nearby, you have the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is fronted by those famous steps up which Rocky was so fond of sprinting in his iconic boxing films. The museum itself is massive, and you can lose yourself in there for hours. You won’t have time to see all that is on display, so you will need to target your favorite art forms carefully.

  • Even on a longer layover, researching in advance means that you can make the most of every second.
  • Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and lose track of time.
  • Even if you don’t fancy the museum, those famous steps are a great place to snap a fun selfie.

12 hour Philadelphia layover

As long as you have stored your suitcases at a Philadelphia luggage storage, with a twelve-hour stopover you will be able to start to really get a feel for this city. There is so much to see and do that it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. One great way to get an overall picture is to do a city tour. The visits aren't always in-depth, but they will give enough of an impression for you to decide what warrants a second visit.

In Philadelphia, you will be surprised at the wide range of tours that are available to you. You could choose a specialty tour such as a food or beverage tour or opt for something more personal and go out with a private guide. Even on a privately guided tour, there are options as some guides will specialize in subjects such as history and others in architecture.

One free option is to download an app such as the Faith and Liberty Trail app and then do a tour at your own pace. This will allow you to get to know the city, but also to stop off at one of the many tempting-looking restaurants you are bound to pass as you wind your way through history.

  • Twelve hours will give you time to enjoy more aspects of this city.
  • A tour helps you gain an overall impression and still leaves you time to visit a restaurant or other attraction.
  • There is a wide variety of tour possibilities, and some of them are free.
Philadelphia, USA

24-hour layover in Philadelphia

On an overnight layover, you have the advantage of being able to travel further from the airport and also experience some of the city's nightlife options. An evening stroll through the Historic District will expose you to local life, fun restaurants, and stunning architecture.

Another interesting nighttime option would be a visit to Cherry Street Pier. This one-hundred-year-old warehouse has been converted into a huge multi-use space and offers a wide range of exciting events and eating options. 

Set on the banks of the Delaware River, it seeks to offer something for all the community and is home to many great local artists. There is a market for crafters and artisans, performance zones, and even an open-air garden, so you are bound to find something here that will make this a memorable evening. 

  • On an overnight stopover, always think about access to the airport before booking your hotel.
  • There is much to choose from in Philadelphia, but the riverfront scene at the Cherry Street Market offers something for everyone, and you will encounter many locals there.
  • On the daytime part of your long layover, think about a tour to gain an overall impression of the city and its major landmarks.
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